I-95 collapse spotlights issues with road and bridge funding | Analysis

Numerous factors are complicating the road ahead for the state’s gas tax

By: - June 13, 2023 9:54 am

The collapsed section of I-95 in Philadelphia (City of Philadelphia photo).

By Harrison Cann

Pennsylvania has a gas problem.

As consumers have digested shifting gas prices throughout the pandemic – and gotten increasingly sick of paying rising prices amid inflation – Pennsylvania residents have been feeling the pain at the pump a bit more than other Americans.

Coming in at roughly 60 cents per gallon, the commonwealth’s gas tax is the second-highest in the nation, trailing only California. Despite that distinction, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation’s road and bridge funding sources are alarmingly close to running on empty.

With a massive influx of federal infrastructure funding coming to the commonwealth, rising construction costs and an increasingly unpopular gas tax, state and transportation officials are gauging gas tax alternatives to put the state and its aging roadways on stronger short- and long-term financial footing.

“People have to understand the amount of bridges and roads we have … We have more than 25,000 state-owned bridges, most of which are over 50 years old,” state Rep. Ed Neilson, chair of the House Transportation Committee, told City & State. “We have to make sure we stretch the dollars as best we can to make safe roadways.”

The dire need for road and bridge repairs is more apparent now than ever after a bridge on I-95 in Northeast Philadelphia collapsed Sunday after a tanker truck carrying gasoline burst into flames beneath it. A months-long repair project could be just a taste of what’s to come in a commonwealth full of deteriorating infrastructure.

A section of I-95 in Philadelphia collapses. The state’s response. What local lawmakers said

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